Absolute Music, Mechanical Reproduction by Arved Ashby

By Arved Ashby

Recordings are actually the first means we listen classical tune, specially the extra summary sorts of “absolute” instrumental tune. during this unique, provocative e-book, Arved Ashby argues that recording know-how has reworked our figuring out of artwork song. Contesting the laments of nostalgic critics, Ashby sees recordings as socially revolutionary and tools of a musical vernacular, but additionally unearths that recording and absolute track truly contain related notions of removal sound from context. he is taking inventory of technology's impression on classical song, addressing the questions on the center of the problem. This erudite but concise learn unearths how mechanical copy has remodeled classical musical tradition and the very act of listening, breaking down aesthetic and generational boundaries and combining classical track into the soundtrack of daily life.

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Such a situation would seem to demand, by way of compensation, an increasingly specific semiotics of performance, an increase in the interpreter’s aesthetic and ontological authority. One could also describe the situation in terms of literacies: art music involves two literacies, a literacy in performance and a literacy in hearing, with the former presuming the latter but the latter not necessarily involving the former. In this context, we could say art music has become a unique cultural phenomenon in that the two texts it involves—the means of transmitting the work, and the musical countenance immediately presented to the listener—have drifted farther and farther apart as musical literacy has changed.

21 It is worthy of fiction that such an international spectacle could emerge from an unknown musician essaying a then-obscure composition. But that relative obscurity served to enable this Bach-Gould paradigmatic text, and it is hard to imagine such an influential performance as the “Gouldbergs”—as the pianist himself jokingly dubbed the record—originating in different circumstances.

But there’s no room for this in Kramer’s thinking, an ontology where meaning lies intrinsically, unchangingly, and synonymously with the work—the first and final determinant of significance. He believes this is true even of the mediated musical experience, where the machinery ultimately serves to focus our attention retrospectively on those musical meanings enshrined in aged works. He talks briefly about film and soundtracks, specifically Bach’s G Major Cello Suite as it appears in both Peter Weir’s Master and Commander and Roman Polanski’s The Pianist.

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